As we enter the final week of conference play, Ohio State has further cemented itself as the top team in the conference with a win over the visiting Nittany Lions, but only by 11 points, their lowest margin of victory on the season. Their last and most considerable challenge will be traveling to a hostile Ann Arbor to face Michigan who just took care of the Hoosiers on the road. The other big stories on the week will be whether Michigan State and Nebraska will make the six-win bowl eligibility mark as we wrap up the regular season.
Big Ten Football Week 14 Power Rankings
No. 14 Rutgers (2-9, 0-8 B1G)
Previous: No. 14; Last Week: Loss vs. Michigan State 0-27
Once again, Rutgers gets blanked by another Big Ten team, which makes it their fourth shutout loss this season. All four came from Big Ten teams (Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, and Michigan State). It seems that Rutgers’ offense used up their momentum against Ohio State and left none for this last week’s game against the Spartans.
No. 13 Northwestern (2-9, 0-8 B1G)
Previous: No. 13; Last Week: Loss vs. #10 Minnesota 22-38
Saturday was always going to be an uphill battle for Northwestern, with 4th-string QB Andrew Marty getting thrust into the starting role due to injuries. Still, Pat Fitzgerald has to be disappointed with his normally stout defense conceding 200 yards on the ground and through the air. Northwestern will try to extend its winning streak against Illinois to five games next week in Champaign.
No. 12 Maryland (3-8, 1-7 B1G)
Previous: No. 12; Last Week: Loss vs. Nebraska 54-7
It has been six weeks since Maryland has won a game and things did not get better against Nebraska, as the Terrapins lost 54-7. Maryland is on the road this week against Michigan State and are going to be in a fight as the Spartans need a win to go bowling. For the Terrapins, it is a chance to play spoilers and end their season on a positive note.
No. 11 Nebraska (5-6, 3-5 B1G)
Previous: No. 11; Last Week: Win at Maryland 54-7
Nebraska fans finally had a Saturday they could enjoy. The Cornhuskers had four rushing touchdowns and averaged 6.1 yards per play in a demolition of the Terrapins. It all comes down to next week, when Scott Frost’s crew can clinch bowl eligibility with a win over #17 Iowa.
No. 10 Purdue (4-7, 3-5 B1G)
Previous: No. 10; Last Week: Loss at #12 Wisconsin 24-45
Purdue’s dreams of reaching six wins have been officially cancelled thanks to their performance against an improving Wisconsin team. In the process of handling injury after injury, the Boilermakers have utilized a number of younger players in their offensive line up that may help pay dividends next season. Purdue hosts Indiana for their final game of the regular season.
No. 9 Michigan State (5-6, 3-5 B1G)
Previous: No. 9; Last Week: Win at Rutgers 27-0
Michigan State bounced back after their blowout loss to the Wolverines by shutting out Rutgers on the road. After a five game losing streak, the Spartans can achieve a bowl birth with a victory this week against Nebraska and keep morale at a manageable level for the program after this season.
No. 8 Illinois (6-5, 4-4 B1G)
Previous: No. 8; Last Week: Loss at #17 Iowa 10-19
The Fighting Illini lost a close one on the road against Iowa Saturday, ending their four game winning streak. Illinois has already reached bowl eligibility and with a match up against in-state foe Northwestern, Lovie Smith’s squad can look to gain some momentum entering post season play.
No. 7 Indiana (7-4, 4-4 B1G)
Previous: No. 7; Last Week: Loss vs. #13 Michigan 14-39
Once again Indiana falls to a top Big Ten team as Michigan walked into Memorial Stadium and defeated the Hoosiers by 25 points. Indiana has now lost back-to-back games for just the first time this season and still have a lot to play for. Tom Allen’s team goes on the road this week for the battle of the Old Oaken Bucket against Purdue, a game in which they have not won since the 2016 season.
No. 6 Minnesota (10-1, 7-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 6; Last Week: Win at Northwestern 38-22
Minnesota recovered from their first loss of the season by defeating Northwestern by 16 in Evanston. This week, the Big Ten West Division title is on the line as the Golden Gophers host the Wisconsin Badgers. For both teams it is simple, win and you are booking a trip to Indianapolis to face Ohio State for the conference title. Can P.J. Fleck and the Gophers bring their first division title to Minneapolis or will the Badgers once again prove that they are the powerhouse of the west?
No. 5 Iowa (8-3, 5-3 B1G)
Previous: No. 5; Last Week: Win vs. Illinois 19-10
Iowa put away Illinois for their eighth win of the season and are set to square off against Nebraska to end the regular season. With a victory, the Hawkeyes will reach nine wins for the second consecutive season and can look towards a decent bowl game at the end of the calendar year.
No. 4 Penn State (9-2, 6-2 B1G)
Previous: No. 3; Last Week: Loss at #2 Ohio State 17-28
Penn State’s slim shot at the College Football Playoff vanished on Saturday, but not without some drama. PSU cut a 21-0 Ohio State lead to 21-17 before Justin Fields found Chris Olave for a fourth quarter TD. Penn State should easily get to win #10 next week, as Rutgers comes to town.
(Tie) No. 2 Michigan (9-2, 6-2 B1G)
Previous: No. 4; Last Week: Win at Indiana 39-14
After their dominating win over Indiana, Michigan has won four straight games and have a date with undefeated Ohio State in Ann Arbor to close out the season. The Wolverines have not defeated the Buckeyes since 2011 and head coach Jim Harbaugh is winless in his tenure against OSU. With a win, the Wolverines can end the streak against their rivals and give them their first loss of the season.
(Tie) No. 2 Wisconsin (9-2, 5-2 B1G)
Previous: No. 2; Last Week: Win vs. Purdue 45-24
Wisconsin has since taken care of business and they are now fully in control of their own destiny to win the Big Ten West. The Badgers have a “win and you’re in” scenario against a 10-1 Minnesota team that is also fighting for their own shot at the Big Ten Championship game. Even with Ohio State and Michigan slated for next week, the most interesting match up will be the battle for the West division.
No. 1 Ohio State (11-0, 8-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 1; Last Week: Win vs. #8 Penn State 28-17
It may not have been the sexiest win, but the Buckeyes controlled the top-ten Nittany Lions for four quarters in Columbus. J.K. Dobbins paced a powerful rushing attack that found gaps in Penn State’s vaunted run defense. Time to head to Ann Arbor and take on That Team Up North.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ